Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen has revealed that when his side was touring India and the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack took place, they “felt it to the bone”.
England were playing a One-Day International (ODI) against India in Cuttack Nov 26, the day the attacks started. The last two of the seven match ODI series were cancelled, casting a doubt over the following two-match Test series as England headed home.
“We lost every single one-day game in India. Then, the start of the Mumbai attacks changed everything; 173 people were killed. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, where we had stayed a fortnight earlier, and were due to return in a couple of weeks’ time, was at the centre of the tragedy. This wasn’t like some remote event we saw on TV. We felt it to the bone,” Pietersen writes in his autobiography “KP” which was released last month.
“We were pulled back to England, flown back to London at the first opportunity. Then we waited for the situation to be assessed by security specialists.”
India had crushed England in all five of the ODIs played with the last two cancelled. They were due to play two Tests in Ahmedabad and Mumbai but the attacks led the venues to be changed to Chennai and Mohali.
After much deliberation by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decided to send their team to play the two Tests which ended with the home side winning the series 1-0.
“In the meantime, there was pressure on us to return to play the two remaining Tests. The ECB had contracts to fulfil and its relationship with India to worry about. It was really a difficult time,” writes the discarded England batsman.
Pietersen says that he had to convince many of his teammates that they should complete the rest of the tour, so much so that he on some days spent 15 hours on the phone.
“I had to convince a lot of players that we should go back. I was on the phone for 15 hours some of those days in England. I promised that no player would be obliged to return, but I was in favour of going back. Some of the senior players weren’t keen,” writes Pietersen, who was then the captain of the England team.
Eventually, England returned to complete the series the visitors were “looked after really well”
“The bottom line was that if we were happy with everything, we would return to India. In Abu Dhabi, everything was finally settled. Everybody got on board and we were going back to India. When we flew into India the security was incredible. We were looked after really well,” concludes the right handed batsman.